Ah, Trader Joe’s, where the exotic becomes comfortably commonplace, and the allure of international cuisine is neatly packaged in freezer-friendly form. Enter their latest culinary adventure: ‘Trader Joe’s Chicken, Lentil and Caramelized Onion Pilaf,’ also known as Adas Polo. This dish promises a tantalizing trip to the heart of Persia, all from the convenience of your microwave. Before you cancel your dinner reservations and break out the fancy plates, let’s dive into this frozen aisle interpretation of a classic Persian dish, where ‘authenticity’ meets ‘accessible’ in a dance as intricate as the flavors it promises.
The full title should be Trader Joe’s Chicken, Lentil and Caramelized Onion Pilaf with Saffron Basmati Rice, Dark Chicken Meat, Dates and Golden Raisins. Why not just put the whole ingredients list on the front? 😉
Before we move on to the review, let’s back up and figure out what this dish is supposed to be because I can bet most of my readers have no idea what Adas Polo is supposed to be.
What is Adas Polo?
Adas Polo, a traditional Persian dish, is a culinary tapestry woven from the rich textures and flavors of the Middle East. At its heart, this dish combines rice and lentils, a pairing as ancient as the Persian Empire itself. The rice, often basmati, is revered for its long, fragrant grains, offering a fluffy and delicate base. Lentils, meanwhile, add an earthy depth and are a staple in Persian cuisine, celebrated for their nutritional value and hearty texture. The dish is elevated with the caramelized onions, providing a sweet and savory counterpoint to the nutty lentils and rice. This symphony of flavors is often garnished with raisins and dates, adding a hint of natural sweetness, and sometimes, for a luxurious twist, saffron and other spices are introduced to infuse the dish with a distinct, aromatic warmth. Adas Polo is not just a meal; it’s a narrative of Persian culture, history, and culinary artistry, served up on a single, sumptuous plate.
How to Prepare
Trader Joe’s gives us two options on how to prepare this dish. Microwave and stovetop. I opted for the microwave because I’m lazy. The weird thing for my bag was it was a solid brick. I had to break it into chunk and put it in a bowl to microwave. It was like it thawed and refroze. Anyway, I followed the directions and it cooked ok. I bet the stovetop method would be just as easy.
What to Serve with Trader Joe’s Chicken, Lentil and Caramelized Onion Pilaf
Ok, we are going to call it Adas Polo because that is what it is essentially! I bet you are scratching your head about what to serve with it. I gave it some deep thought and came up with these ideas.
- Grilled or Roasted Meats: Adas Polo goes exceptionally well with grilled or roasted meats, particularly chicken or lamb. These meats complement the earthy flavors of the lentils and rice, while their juiciness adds a delightful contrast to the dish’s texture.
- Yogurt and Cucumber Salad (Mast-o-Khiar): This refreshing Persian yogurt salad, made with cucumbers, mint, and sometimes raisins or walnuts, offers a cool and creamy counterpoint to the warm, hearty Adas Polo. Its tanginess balances the sweetness of the caramelized onions and dried fruits in the pilaf.
- Persian Stews (Khoresht): Serving Adas Polo with a traditional Persian stew, like Ghormeh Sabzi (herb stew) or Fesenjan (pomegranate walnut stew), can turn the meal into a lavish feast. The rich and complex flavors of these stews complement the simplicity of the lentil and rice dish.
- Pickled Vegetables (Torshi): Persian pickles, with their sharp and tangy flavors, add a delightful zing to the meal. They can cut through the richness of the dish and refresh the palate between bites.
- Grilled Vegetables: For a lighter accompaniment, grilled vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants, or tomatoes are an excellent choice. Their smokiness and charred edges bring out the natural flavors of the Adas Polo, making for a wholesome and satisfying meal.
The price is $4.49/14 Oz which is a sizeable amount of food. You should be able to get 2 servings out of a bag. It’s 720 calories in a bag. A meal for a hungry person or a nice side dish.
Cooking it I could smell the exotic aromas coming out of the microwave. The cinnamon, cumin, and saffron are quite aromatic when you cook this dish but somehow I felt like there should be more when I ate it. It was like the whole dish was under seasoned. In fact, I had to add a bit of salt and pepper to give it some flavor.
Then there is the problem of the missing chicken. It’s not that there wasn’t any chicken, it was the fact that the chicken in there was so finely shredded it’s hard to see in the rice. According to the bag, there are 13 grams of protein per serving, which is pretty good. It must be the lentils giving some protein too. But if I was making this dish at home, the chunks of chicken would be plain to see and taste.
Once I added some salt and pepper then it was much better. The rice and lentils are cooked perfectly. The raisins and dates aren’t overpowering and not too sweet. I am not a big fan of raisins in savory dishes but these were actually kind of nice.
All in all, it was a pleasant dish but I am not jumping up and down in excitement. I felt the seasoning and chicken could use some help but at the end of the day, I am going to give it 6 Bells out of 10!